About this project
This project is Artistic project that visually restores Women with Disabilities to their rightful place in history...along side everyone else....through Photography, Written Research, and Personal Experience! Bethany Productions is proud to present its second Kickstarter project, "Pennhurst: The Diva's Shall Rise."
I have gathered a team of professionals - a photographer, costumer, makeup artist, videographer, and Feminist blogger & researcher - to do a photo layout of who and what American Women with Disabilities dreamed to be had they not been institutionalized in the United States as recent as 1986.
Photos will include iconic female images, fashion, occupations, and stages of a woman's life across the decades. Given the opportunity, would women with disabilities have marched with the Suffragettes? Would they have studied to become nurses, lawyers, or corporate CEO's? Had they had their freedom, would women with disabilities have fallen in love, married, become a mothers?
Our setting is the abandoned grounds of The Pennhurst State School and Institution; Our goal is to honor those residents who lived, died, and survived within the walls of the institution - not only at Pennhurst, but in institutions across the nation.
Much of our knowledge, culture, and understanding of people with disabilities is missing because they had no voice. They had no way to record or write their thoughts much like women in general history. The historical heritage of Women with Disabilities is far more obscure, and barely documented.
Through this collaborative creative project, I will be fusing academic research, disability history research, and first person interviews, with fashion, photography, and American pop culture.
To do this production, I am raising $30,000 through Kickstarter to fund the photography, editing, research, travel, lodging, costuming, costume construction, and publication of "Pennhurst: The Diva's Shall Rise" as a full color, photographic layout of the history of women with disabilities into a book.
Risks and challenges
The risks and challenges of completing this project is time - coordinating the creative team for travel, accommodating the schedules of several professionals, the grounds-keepers of Pennhurst, as well as access to experts in America's de-institutionalization and first person interviews will certainly prove to be a challenge - one I am willing to take on.
Unique to this project is the challenge of pleasing all of the viewpoints maintained in the complicated history of people with disabilities. With that said - I do take on this project as a woman with a disability, and intend to use my contrasted experience of life *outside* of institutionalization as my lens. My artistic presentation, while based in researched fact, will be from personal experience, with an attitude of remembrance, honor, and respect for the residents, staff, and community directly affected by Pennhurst.
NOTE: I do not belong to any specific advocacy groups or represent any organized entity's mission statement or purpose. This project is strictly an Artistic expression of my thoughts, opinions, and experiences as a woman with a disability who grew up in public and political change.
Challenges I will face after the project is once again time. Time to work with editors in both written and artistic content. Time to ensure all writing is factual and cited. Time to piece the book together. Time to get it published.
For me, this project is truly something I am meant to do. I have felt very strongly about the subject matter. The opportunity to do such a photo shoot from a woman's point of view that actually has a disability is unique in and of itself.
We have never seen what women with disabilities may have looked like had they been able to directly participate in America's rich cultural history.
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